Quatermass - Quatermass (1970)
2007 CD Repertoire 5087
Progressive rock trio Quatermass formed in 1969, comprising bassist/vocalist John Gustafson, keyboardist Pete Robinson, and ex-Episode Six drummer Mick Underwood. Underwood had previously spent time with Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow) in the Outlaws, in addition to cutting his teeth with Shadows bassist Jet Harris and an early incarnation of the Herd; Gustafson had a background in the Merseybeats and the Big Three.
Quatermass issued their lone LP on Harvest in 1970. Despite being regarded as a fine release by the label, it didn't do much commercially, and the group broke up by the end of the following year. Underwood later joined Strapps, another Harvest act that enjoyed a longer lifespan. Both he and Gustafson eventually played with Ian Gillan at separate times, and Gustafson also went on to play on the third, fourth, and fifth Roxy Music records. Robinson also remained busy as a session musician.
Quatermass' only album is a must-have for prog rock enthusiasts, especially lovers of the keyboard-dominated style which flourished in the early '70s. Although there are only three members of the band, their histories are just as colorful as the music they produced. Keyboard player Pete Robinson and bass man Johnny Gustafson met drummer Mick Underwood and founded Episode Six, a band which included Ian Gillan who later fronted Deep Purple. Underwood was also involved with the Outlaws as well as the Herd, only a few years before Peter Frampton arrived. When the band finally formed Quatermass in 1970, they had set their sights on a power rock format which would use Robinson's keyboards to shape their sound. Both "Black Sheep" and "One Blind Mice" were released as singles which fell mostly on deaf ears, but the band's sound was equally as moving as the Nice's repertoire, for example, at around the same time. Quatermass' sound is far from sounding hollow, isolated, or directionless, but all of the cuts are rather rock-sturdy and instrumentally voluptuous from all points. The string work that swoops in is encompassing, Underwood's drumming exhibits personality, and the keyboard portions are remarkably striking and distinct. Even Gustafson's robust vocals work well within the music's structure, subsiding and ascending when called for, and all of the cuts result in worthy examples of well-built progressive rock, in both ballad and power rock form. Following this album, the band broke up, with Gustafson later doing session work for Kevin Ayers, Steve Hackett, and Ian Hunter, among others, while Robinson found new life within the jazz-prog band Brand X. Beautifully packaged with informative liner notes, Quatermass sounds as resounding today as it did in 1970, and upon hearing it, one can only wonder why it was so overlooked during its release.
Formed in September 1969. Mick Underwood's previous bands had included Jet Harris and The Jet Blacks, The Outlaws, an embryonic Herd and Episode Six. John Gustafson had been in The Big Three and The Merseybeats. They undertook a low cost US tour to help promote this album but collapsed due to lack of finances.
Pete Robinson's organ work was very much to the fore on their album and musically they were influenced by bands like The Nice and early Deep Purple. One of its cuts, Black Sheep Of The Family, was later covered by Rainbow.
They were more popular on the Continent in countries like Germany and Italy than here. They had a German-only 45, Three Blind Mice, which is now very sought-after.
After they split at the end of 1970, Mick Underwood went on to play in Peace (who included Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company fame), Sammy, Strapps and Gillan. John Gustafson formed Hard Stuff with ex-Atomic Rooster members John Cann and Paul Hammond. He then did session work for Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music and was in The Ian Gillan Band and Pete Robinson went into session work before joining the jazz-rock act Brand X.
Compilation appearances include: Black Sheep Of The Family on Picnic (Dble LP) and Harvest Heritage - 20 Greats (LP).
2. Black Sheep of the Family
3. Post War Saturday Echo
4. Good Lord Knows
5. Up on the Ground
7. Make up Your Mind
8. Laughin Tackle
10. One Blind Mice [Bonustrack]
11. Punting [Bonustrack]